After Senator Panfilo Lacson revealed last month the P6-billion “tongpats” or kickback scheme in the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) pork importation program, the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) disclosed there are big businessmen behind the system.
“We have names already and mga (the) leads na maaaring mga tao na involved dito. Malalaking tao at mga negosyanteng na involved dito sa pagmamanipula ng sistemang iyan (of people possibly involved here. These are big names and businessmen who are involved in the manipulation of the system),” PACC Chairman Greco Belgica said during the Laging Handa virtual press briefing on Thursday, April 15.
“Hindi pa po tapos ang aming imbestigasyon (The investigation is not done yet). Pero (But) we have a team dedicated to that as well,” he added.
Belgica said they are in consultation with Agriculture Secretary William Dar, key offices, and other stakeholders.
They are also reaching out to the Bureau of Customs (BOC), which oversees the importation of pork products into the country.
“Meron po kaming initial findings na amin pong sinusundan kung saan maaaring nagkakaroon ng problema dito nga po sa pork issue na ito (We already have initial findings that we are following where the problem is with this pork issue),” the PACC chief said.
The commission is currently looking into the issuance of import permits.
The PACC conducted an investigation after Lacson said there was a “racket” within the DA. It would purportedly bring P6 billion in kickbacks from the proposal to increase the volume of imported pork products and reduce the tariff rate of imported porks.
The move was done to augment the supply of pork in the country as the local hog industry struggles with the impact of the African swine flu and the coronavirus pandemic.
According to Lacson, a syndicate inside the DA will increase its payoff from kickbacks from the proposed increase in the minimum access volume (MAV) for imported pork.
The MAV will increase from 54,000 to 400,000 metric tons while the tariff rate will be down to as low as 5 percent from 30
President Duterte signed Executive Order 128, which is now being opposed by Senators Franklin Drilon, Cynthia Villar, and Francis Pangilinan.